Geneva, and that will end on the last day of the next SIHH, 19 January 2018. Piaget has already presented many special anniversary models, and many more are still to come, including a keenly-awaited concept watch.When Piaget launched the Altiplano 60 years ago, it was very modern in its minimalist design, and it looks modern still today. Piaget has won many world records with Altiplano, for its ultrathin movements and cases, but this was always in order to maximize elegance, not to win records. It has become the range that Piaget sells most, and most transversally, with 40% sold to women. 60 years is an important anniversary, and Piaget is taking it seriously, with celebrations that started on 17 January 2017, the first day of the SIHH watch show in
We spoke to Frank Touzeau, International Watch Marketing & Creation Director, at SIHH 2017. He began by describing the anniversary in more detail.
“Not many brands can celebrate this sort of anniversary. A watch model with 60 years of life is rare in the sector. I can think of Cartier’s Tank Anglais and Santos-Dumont, Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Reverso, the Rolex Oyster and Submariner, but that’s about it. When you turn 50, that’s an event, 60 means a lot more. In fact, we say that 60 seconds make a minute, 60 minutes make an hour, and 60 years make an icon. We started to work on the Altiplano anniversary two and a half years ago, and we planned a series of successive releases. For the first step, we wanted to reveal seven limited editions, based on colour.”
The brand has always shown great sensitivity to the market, and they know exactly who their customers are. “In the 1960s and ‘70s, Piaget was famous for presenting lovely hard stone dials every year,” said Frank Touzeau, “and later the Altiplano became a classic watch with silver, dark grey or black dials. Today we want to target dandies, because we want to expand the Altiplano clientele. We wanted to return to the bright colours of the 1960s and give a new impulse to the Altiplano collection, to prove that we are really fresh, as audacious as we were back then.”
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Even though some of the anniversary products have features dating to 60 years ago – such as the slender cross at the centre, and the historic Piaget and Automatic logos – the watches look wholly contemporary. One version features the blue dial trend. Something else that has changed over the years is the tendency to open up the watch and reveal the movement. Piaget makes its own movements and so it can be lavish with its finish.
“When you are a truly integrated manufacture, you can choose whether or not to display the movement. If it has a distinctive signature, such as a micro-rotor, it’s worth displaying it by means of a sapphire crystal caseback. But even when the caseback is in gold, when you open it, the movement finish is the same. Only a few brands have the same quality of movement finish with open or closed casebacks.”
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In some of the new watches, Piaget has eliminated the small seconds subdial and added the date. We asked Frank Touzeau whether, while planning a new watch, design comes first and then the movement, or vice versa?
“When we work on the strategic development of a movement, we work with a long-term strategy, eight years in advance. Just the development of the tools for a single calibre takes six months. So you have to anticipate what the module animations are going to be for the coming years. For the anniversary models, we decided to work on the 1205P, which was introduced in 2010. Its development began in 2006. This gives you an idea of the timing: today we are at an advanced stage of development on the watches for 2018 and 2019.”
One of the highlights of the new collection is the Altiplano Tourbillon, a 38 mm watch, the first appearance of this complication in the Altiplano family. This piece is a fine expression of Piaget’s skills in watchmaking and jewellery, with case, dial and buckle set with diamonds. The movement visible through the sapphire caseback is as spectacular as the front. Further information from the Piaget website.